The Institute of Directors has released a new poll stating that more home working is likely to be a permanent fixture for a majority of businesses. The survey of just under 1,000 firms shows that 74% plan on maintaining the increase in home working. More than half planned on reducing their long-term use of workplaces.

As many businesses decide to keep staff at home, the number of schoolchildren also remaining at home has also increased in recent weeks, meaning a return to teaching, working and parenting for millions of parents. A report last week showed that one in six secondary schools have sent students home to self-isolate due to positive cases of Coronavirus.

While Boris Johnson has made it clear that keeping schools open will remain a priority, research suggests that in the event of a second lockdown only 31% of parents would continue to send their children to school. Furthermore, as the prospect of a second lockdown increase, so does the likelihood of widespread school closures taking place across the country.

Juggling childcare, work and home-schooling has left many parents struggling to cope with the new way of living brought about by lockdown with many fearing a repeat of this in the coming months. Now, accountancy consultancy Theta (http://www.thetafr.co.uk/), which specialises in flexible working options for chartered accountants and consultants, reveals brand new national research into the implications of school closures and lockdown on the lives and careers of working parents.

Key stats: 

  • Over 2 in 3 (64%) Brits believe that parents have been the hardest hit by the pandemic as they have had to work, take care of and teach their children simultaneously
  • More than 1 in 4 (27%) parents in Britain fear their child not returning to school this month will put their job in jeopardy as they will have to continue to care for them while working from home
  • More than 1 in 4 (27%) parents in Britain are making provisions for childcare as they do not believe they will return to school fully this month
  • Almost a quarter (23%) parents in Britain say their employer has been unsympathetic to them having to manage childcare around work during the COVID period
  • 28% of parents in Britain say that having to take care of their child during the COVID period has set them back more than a year in their career

Chris Biggs, Managing Director of Theta, commented on the research and on the future of work for parents:

“Working from home has its advantages for many businesses across a number of sectors, but it can have a disproportionately detrimental effect on different parts of the population, particularly those with school-aged children. Firms need to appreciate that if they are going to ask their staff to stay at home, they may need greater flexibility to ensure that they are able to complete all their tasks, personal and professional. 

The world of work has long presented additional challenges for working parents and lockdown has only made this issue worse for many who have not been given flexible working options or who have had to take over home-schooling and childcare responsibilities. The return of children to schools this September has created additional concerns that parents will have to change their plans quickly if and when they are forced to shut again or if they feel schools are not safe enough to continue. Business leaders need to match working from home with sentiments of true flexibility to keep their team’s morale high, maintain productivity and keep their families safe during this pandemic.”